Guest Contributor: Steph Johnson, Head of North America, Aspectus PR
Brian Prentice, a research vice president with Gartner Group’s emerging trends and technologies group in Sydney, Australia, was an early adopter of the term ‘community sourcing.’ It describes a software development and deployment model where participating organizations make their internal application and development resources available free of charge to third parties – with the expectation that others will do the same – to contribute to the greater good.
Outside the software paradigm, one could compare the concept to a bunch of companies going in on a pizza. Coordination allows the parties involved to pool their resources to achieve a common result in which everyone can share: sundried tomato and mozzarella for me + sausage and mushroom for you = less money and everyone wins!
Community sourcing on the PR front, among clients or with outside entities, can yield benefits for small start-ups and global corporations such as, extra publicity, expanded prospect lists, increased visibility and the enhanced credibility that comes from keeping the right company.
We are starting to see more of this in the financial services industry, especially when it comes to private events. In a sector dominated by major industry conferences, a smaller forum with the right agenda can yield high quality leads and create more effective conditions for subsequent sales discussions.
One of our trading platform vendors recently teamed up with a liquidity provider who had an ardent interest in connecting with their broker universe. Both wanted to reach a more sophisticated buying audience and spend their marketing dollars as wisely as possible to reach a targeted group of prospects. They brought in an analyst and a satisfied end-user and behold, a high-quality event was staged and serialized.
Did I Mention My Sister Does My PR?
Community sourcing isn’t only found on the customer side of the financial services PR equation. PR firms often find themselves asked nicely by doe-eyed clients to partner, on their behalf, with agencies they are used to pitching against with great fervor.
In the financial services space, where many of us have been around since dinosaur times, legacy relationships can come heavily into play. Some firms carry indefatigable consultants with them from company to company, while others may have a geographic requirement that calls for a niche player to work the local marketplace or a relative who happens to be ‘in the game.’
Similar to our clients working together to achieve their collective greater good, PR firms themselves must apply some collaborative tactics to maximize benefits:
- Respect local knowledge. Can my FATCA beat up your Basel III? The only reliable way to interpret market impact in other geographies is to have local people on the ground and trust their guidance.
- Ask for expectations up front and make sure roles are clearly defined. Financial analysts and media may both be on the communications wish list, and there will be overlap in who owns the relationships. Define who is reaching out to whom early in the relationship and know how the client will judge your success.
- Understand legacy relationship(s). If the analyst relations consultant you’ll be working with is married to the CEO’s sister, be circumspect about their connection. This person will always have the position of dominance if there is a difference of opinion.
- Share information willingly. Nobody should fork over a media database during a competitive pitch, but the rules change when you share a client. Financial news breaks quickly, and you want a collaborative tag team in place when sensitive data is in play in the public domain.
Collaboration is most effective when companies interact with at least a partial congruence of interests, and the financial services industry soon won’t have a choice. Increasingly baroque regulatory requirements, snowballing data volumes and shrinking budgets are going to force financial services firms to seek out new ways to play nicely. Our future success may rely on our ability to share knowledge and play in the same sandbox. Maybe we can all sit down over pizza and a six pack and come up with a solution to this kill switch problem?